Guenter Seidel and Steffen Peters each rode two horses, and together they took the top four places in the Olympic-qualifying Grand Prix at the Del Mar National, April 29-May 2 in San Diego, Calif. Seidel, of Del Mar, Calif., won the Grand Prix aboard Dick and Jane Brown’s Nikolaus 7 (72.41%) and was second on their Aragon (71.04%).
President of the ground jury Maribel Alonzo de Quinzanos saw the results differ-ently than the other judges and placed Aragon first. “He is a very good up-and-coming horse with lovely piaffe-passage tours. He also has good collection in his canter,” she said. “He has international quality gaits and is a lovely horse with fantastic extended trots. He got tense in his piaffe, which affected his transitions, and the canter was somewhat tense, but overall it was of very good quality.”
Nikolaus 7 also won the Grand Prix Special on Sunday (73.12%).
Lila Kommerstad’s Floriano and Grandeur, ridden by Peters of San Diego, Calif., claimed third and fourth places. Floriano secured third with 70.91 percent.
“There were a few little things due to tension, but when you are so close to the Olympic trials, you need to risk a little more, so that caused little mistakes,” said Peters. “He had some irregular steps in the passage on the centerline, but he was good on everything that had a coefficient, and he scored 8s on all those movements from all five judges. He was very good in the trot half-passes and the collected and extended walks.”
Peters was pleased with Floriano, who was showing in just his fifth Grand Prix. He said the one tempis were their strongest movements. “He is a wonderful horse and continues to improve,” he said.
Alonzo de Quinzanos agreed, and she especially liked his half passes. “His test had a lot of flow; everything was harmonious. He could maybe have had more in his extended movements, but I liked his attitude for piaffe,” she said.
Floriano put in another solid ride to place second in the Grand Prix Special (71.08%).
Peters said Grandeur had one of his best tests in the Grand Prix. “I thought if I had this ride in Europe, it would have put us around a 73 or 74 percent. One judge did reward me with a 74 percent. I am hoping to put in a test like this in June and then go on to Europe. I couldn’t have asked for more. I feel that both I as a rider and Grandeur are in the best physical shape. It’s now or never.”
Grandeur had a beautiful and steady freestyle on Saturday evening in front of a large crowd that affected many of the less experienced horses. His maturity enabled him to place second with a 74.40 percent.
Kingston, ridden by Leslie Morse of Beverly Hills, Calif., duplicated his ride from the U.S. Freestyle Championships in February. The powerful music and choreography suits the powerful stallion very well. Her ride, which received a standing ovation, was rewarded with a 76.95 percent. This was an improvement from her score of 69.37 percent in the Grand Prix.
Alonzo de Quinzanos considers Kingston one of the best up-and-coming horses, with three good international gaits. “He is a very complete horse with no weak spots,” she said.
Peters also swept the small tour with the beautiful gelding Marlando, owned by Lila Kommerstad. With beautiful half-passes and canter pirouettes, he repeated his wins from last year in the 30 horse CDI Prix St. Georges (71.91%) and the Intermediaire I (73.25%).
Peters had ridden conservatively in the Prix St. Georges. “I felt I had to hold back. But in the Intermediaire I, I felt I could ride him the way I ride it at home, and I was rewarded with a 73 percent,” he said.
Morse rode Tip Top to second in both classes, scoring a 71.41 percent in the Prix St. Georges and 71.83 percent in the Intermediaire I.
Beal Is Best Of Young Riders
Christina Beal, of Fallbrook, Calif., two-time Region 7 Young Rider team member, continued to show why she is the top contender for the region’s team yet again. Aboard her 13-year-old Danish Warmblood Ray Ace, she won all three classes at Del Mar, scoring a 68.44 percent in the Team test, 68.50 percent in the Young Rider Prix St. Georges, and a 73.87 percent in the freestyle.
Beal’s tests were steady and consistent. “I was very happy. I had one little mistake in one canter pirouette in the Team test, but I didn’t have any mistakes in the Prix St. Georges. He’s improved so much in the year and a half I’ve owned him. He trusts me more and we are more comfortable with each other.”
She scored an 8.5 on her music in the freestyle, designed and choreographed by Luna Tunes Freestyles, from Judge Gary Rockwell.
Dani Judy of El Cajon, Calif., rode Antaeas, a 10-year-old Oldenburg she has owned for three years, to second in the Team test (67.00%) and in the freestyle (68.00%). “Everything went well except for the tempi changes,” she said. “I was really worried about how he would behave in the main arena, but he was really brave.”
Having competed at third level last year, she made quite a jump to compete at this level. “We are both inexperienced at this level, so I am really happy,” she said.
Beal and Judy performed a pas de deux Saturday night just before the CDI Grand Prix freestyles. The exhibition was originally planned to be a quadrille of young riders, but two had to leave on Saturday.
“We got the two horses together about 10 minutes before they went in, so we weren’t sure how they would act together,” said Judy. They performed flawlessly to an appreciative crowd.
Susan Walker, of San Diego, Calif., aboard her mother Gay Walker’s Facet, a 17-year-old Dutch Warmblood, won both FEI Junior tests.
“I got all my changes,” said Walker, 14. “He was a little tight in his neck in the Team test, but that was my fault. The trot work was really good. The half-pass zig-zag was good. I let him go in the extended trot but did not push him. I had one small glitch in the simple change because I held him too much in the canter work.”
Trainer Jennifer Hoffman said of Walker’s rides, “The Team test was very nice and very accurate. It was nicely forward, and she risked a lot in his extended trots and got a lot of points.”
Her other trainer, Jurgen Hoffman, was impressed with their ride on Thursday, which scored a 71.00 percent in the main arena. “Susan kept her cool like it was nothing. It was very impressive,” he said.
Cherie Vetsch of Yakima, Wash., rode her 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood, More Lux, to wins in the amateur Prix St. Georges and Intermediaire I with scores of 66.25 percent and 70.75 percent, respectively. Vetsch has owned the horse since he was 3 and has done the training herself. She temporarily moved south and had been working with Canadian Leslie Reid for the last two months.
“He was very consistent, and he’s not spooky at all,” said Vetsch. “I went off course during my left shoulder-in. I thought it was the best one he’s ever done in his entire life, and I got caught up in the moment and forgot to start the half-pass. So I had to decide between doing the half-pass at a really sharp angle or circle around and start it from the right letter. I opted for the latter.”
She also had a small mistake in her three tempis, but that didn’t dampen her enthusiasm. “This horse is really a dream come true for me,” she said. “He’s so safe.”
Hilda Gurney of Moorpark, Calif., bred the 5-year-old, Trakehner gelding Luminence, by Leonidas. She rode him to wins in several second level classes, scoring as high as 72.70 percent in second level, test 4.
“I was so proud of him,” said Gurney. “They were having the jog for the CDI right at the end of the arena. I was really thrilled that he kept his focus.”
Karen Ball of Coto De Caza, Calif., rode Lord Fiston, a 5-year-old Danish Warmblood owned by Jennifer Lafezkay, to wins in open first level, test 1 (70.74%) and the FEI 5-year-old test.
“We bought the horse for Jennifer in November, and I have only been able to work with him since January after he was imported. He is a gift. She wanted something quiet and easy. But I’m the lucky one in that I get to ride him first,” said Ball.
Del Mar, CA